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In 'High Spirits'

Mike Salmon (76) kept his options open after studying Modern Languages at Birmingham Universty and ended up in the Gin business!
9 Jul 2020
OC news
Mike Salmon (76) with Daughter Caitlin (15)
Mike Salmon (76) with Daughter Caitlin (15)

In High Spirits
 
Having studied Modern Languages at Birmingham University, Mike Salmon (76) still had little idea about a specific career path. “It may seem odd today, but the best advice that I was given at the time was to keep as many options open as possible before choosing a specific profession or industry – and to chase down graduate schemes at a wide range of businesses.” In the event, Mike joined IDV (now Diageo) in 1981 as a Graduate Trainee and embarked on a 35-year career in Marketing and General Management in the International Drinks Industry.

Having completed his training as an International Brand Manager, Mike joined the recently launched Malibu brand team. An early career highlight was accompanying American band, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, on a European tour as Malibu was rolled out into new markets. “This was a dangerously enjoyable role with just one tiny snag. I loathed coconut!”

The next major assignment was setting up Cutty Sark International and running the joint venture that launched this major export brand of Scotch whisky in European and Asian markets, where Mike was CEO until the sale of the business in 2008.

At that point Mike fulfilled his ambition to run his own business, acquiring a specialist equestrian equipment business, Just Chaps, which he still helps to run with his wife, Helen, aka 'The Boss'.

He was drawn back into the drinks industry in 2011, when Mike helped to found Quintessential Brands. As CEO and Marketing Director, he exploited the new gin craze creating and launching craft brands such as Opihr, Bloom and Thomas Dakin (all available in Waitrose, Petersfield – naturally!).

Mike stepped down in 2018 to concentrate on Just Chaps and to improve his golf, “with little evidence so far”.  

He is also an active volunteer at Churcher’s, as a business mentor to students competing in the Tycoon programme and supporting fundraising for the Richard Churcher Foundation as part of the organising team for the Churchers’ Golf Day.

Although he insists that this was never a long-term plan, Mike’s daughters, Caitlin (15) and Rebecca (16) also both attended Churchers' Junior and Senior schools and recently graduated from Leeds and Birmingham Universities respectively.

“I spent five years as a boarder at Churcher’s from 1971 to 1976, which was at that stage still a single sex, ‘Direct Grant’ Grammar School, little thinking that 45 years later I would still be involved. Whilst the college has evolved dramatically since my time, the same basic principles of an inclusive and broadly based education seem to be in rude good health and the college continues to play a central role in the local community. Long may it last.”

 

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